What Do You Do?


If you work in the fields of organization development or leadership development or strategic planning, you often find yourself in discussions about the “role clarity.” And often that “role clarity” leads to an “org chart.” The longer I work in the field, the more I realize that there’s something glaringly missing from these conversations, usually at great peril to leaders.

Typically, a leader can answer, often both with clarity and even loftiness, what their “role” is. Perhaps it will be expressed via comments like, “I’m in charge of the strategic vision and long term sustainability of the organization.” PHEW! That’s a huge and important-sounding job!

But missing from that degree of loftiness might be something far more pressing. That same leader, well equipped to claim their role, might be harder pressed to answer this question: What do you DO all day?

That question is not necessarily judgmental. It’s just literal. If you’re in charge of the “long term sustainability of the organization,” what do you do on Monday morning at 8:00? What lane do you stay in? What meetings do you attend? What are you in charge of? So really, what do you do?

Oftentimes the answer to this question can be a bit jarring. I have clients do time audits to assess that they’re presently doing. Where does their time go? What impact are they having? Then we take that audit and translate it into a clearer understanding of what perhaps they SHOULD be doing.

This is not a pejorative process. This is simply the necessary analysis to ensure that leaders can define not only their intended impact, but the core utility. For the most part, almost all people “beneath” leadership can answer the “what do you do” question with remarkable clarity. It’s absolutely critical that they can answer that question of their leaders.

If you know your role but not your duty, it’s time to analyze, strategize, and publicize. What a totally liberating process it can be!